Is It Okay to Eat Horse Meat?
Horses are beautiful animals and anyone who eats horse meat is immoral.
If you never eat animals that you consider beautiful, this is not a Q1 violation.
This is likely a Q2 violation unless you never eat animals that anyone considers beautiful. It is also a violation if you require that everyone agree with your opinion of what animal beauty is.
It is difficult to make global moral statements that are based on personal feelings without violating Q2. This is because judgements of beauty, value, happiness, attractiveness, and similar fuzzily defined qualities, are, at heart, subjective. You cannot demand that others agree your baby is beautiful, for example. Even if you could convince them to say your child is beautiful, you cannot insist that they believe it.
There is nothing problematic with thinking that eating horse meat is disgusting so long as you respect others’ right to consider your behavior disgusting in similar circumstances. But thinking that something is disgusting is not sufficient reason to condemn those who do it unless you are willing to avoid any practices that other people might find disgusting (eating baloney, publicly displaying affection, cleaning out a septic tank, performing surgery, etc.).
This is not to say that there can never be a logically consistent reason to believe that eating a certain type of animal is wrong. By Q2, it is clear that eating humans can be condemned on the grounds that you don’t want people thinking of you as a source of nourishment. But keeping our focus on eating horses, this practice might reasonably be condemned because:
- Humans have a special relationship with horses, just as we do with dogs, cats, and other companion animals. (This argument only holds in those cultures where humans do indeed have a special relationship with horses.)
- Horses are intelligent, and it is wrong to kill intelligent animals for food. (You will have to be rigorous when defining animal intelligence if you are using this argument. For example, is a horse smarter than a cow?)
- There are non-horse sources of meat that are easier to raise, taste better, or are less expensive. (This would be hard to defend unless you are willing to argue that you always choose food by these criteria.)
- If horses are treated as food, they may go extinct. (A good argument if it can be supported by facts, but it might be defeated by someone who wants to open a ranch to raise horses commercially.)
- If horses are considered a source of food, someone might kill my riding horse so they could eat it. (If you want to use this argument, you will have to decide whether a person who sells eggs could argue that chickens should not be considered food so that their hens won’t be poached.)
This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.